Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Skunk Kitties

So I promised I'd tell you about the three skunk kittens I brought home 4 years ago. Debbie had passed them on to me, and I named them Winken, Blinken, and Nod. Winken was mostly white, with black trim. Blinken was mostly black, with white trim. Nod was a normal looking skunk, black with white stripes. They were about the size of eight-week-old kittens, but fluffier, and adorable. I set them up on our screened back porch.

They didn't know me and were afraid of me, which is never an auspicious thing when you have to put their bowl of formula in their cage three times a day. I tried to slip it in while they were sleeping, and that sometimes worked. But many times they would stand up and growl at me. Then they'd begin stamping their feet, tails raised.

Now a skunk will give you fair warning, but if you fail to heed it when it raises its tail and stamps its feet, the next thing is, it will whirl around and zap you.

Demetrios, observing their fear, complained. "I do not think you have taken my feelings properly into account," he said on the fourth day.

"Tell me your feelings, my Sweet," replied I.

"Whether or not you care about the good opinions of our neighbors, I do. If these skunks should spray, we are going to be persona non grata around here. This thought distresses me all the more on account of what excellent neighbors we are blessed to have. It's just not worth taking the risk."

I thought for a moment, a very brief moment, and said, "You are absolutely right. I have indeed been thoughtless and even though I feel very confident that I know what I'm doing, it still isn't worth the risk."

So I called up Debbie, who said sure, she'd gladly take them back. Demetrios left for work and I packed up Winken, Blinken, and Nod into a cat carrier, snatching each one while it slept, and being very careful to keep its tail tucked down between its hind legs, which is what you must always do when handling skunks. (Just so you know.)


I put the cat carrier on a tea table and turned around to get something else I needed to take with us.

The skunks, all excited to be in a new container, stood up, all three of them, pressing their paws against one side of the cat carrier, which promptly tipped over and fell to the floor. Panicked, three skunklets let go their stink bombs.

Fortunately, most of the spray was contained within the cat carrier. Fortunately, baby skunks have smaller scent sacs than their parents, and fortunately, the stink is not as strong as an adult skunk's. All those fortunate factors put together did not seem to help very much!

I threw away the cat carrier and the soaked baby blankets therein, wrapping everythig first in multiple layers of plastic bags. I bathed the kits (carefully! tails down!) and transferred them to another carrier and took them to Debbie. It took me the whole rest of the day to get the odor out of my porch and house. It took about a dozen times of spraying the whole house with odor killer, of which I had to buy two cans.

Fortunately, only one neighbor noticed anything, Frances, and she said it was only for a short while and it wasn't very strong from where she was. "I wasn't sure, but I told Dickie one of Anastasia's skunks must've sprayed," she said.

I haven't done any skunks since. You can't keep 'em outdoors because some passing cat or dog will provoke them to spray. You can't keep 'em indoors because they're so stinky even when they haven't sprayed. You need an outbuilding or screened porch and five or ten acres surrounding your house for your neighbors' sakes.

Winken and Blinken and Nod, I'm glad to report, were successfully raised on Debbie's 5 acres, and were released when grown.

This means, "Go away! NOW!"